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Old 02-06-2007, 05:00 PM   #1
Scootaru
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Default 2 Shops, Same Tests, 2 Different Results. A Used Car Buying Experience

Car: 04 STI, 11k miles, SR55 turbo, FMIC, 70mm CAI, 816cc inj, 3" TBE, tuned with Cobb AP, boost set at 18 psi, and runs 93 octane.

Background: This car was recently purchased and included all of the modifications above. I had a fair amount of information on the vehicle before buying. I knew the shop that did most of the work and tuned the car. I have a friend who knew the original owner and witnessed the owner's driving style; 50 year old who babied the car. The car was garage kept and seemingly in great condition. During my test drive, I did notice a few things that I felt could be fixed with a new tune. The friend previously mentioned did say that the shop that tuned the car had very limited knowledge of the Cobb AP and the StreetTuner software. I figured a good tune would clear up the issues I noticed. We worked the tune into the deal, so I felt confident in my decision to purchase the vehicle. I bought the STI and I was very happy.

Day 2 of Ownership: I wanted to find someone who knew how to tune with the Cobb AP, so I called Shop #1 who specialized in Subaru's and performance modifications. To my surprise, Shop #1 tuner said he has worked on my car. He said the previous owner took the car to him after the original tune because he was having issues with detonation. Shop #1 tuner said he pulled the maps off the ECU and saw the problem. The timing was being advanced 40 under full boost. He suspected there may be damage and advised the previous owner to get a compression/leak down test. The previous owner just wanted a tune. Shop #1 tuned the car very conservitively and the previous owner seemed rather unhappy. After hearing this, I definitely wanted to get the compression/leak down test done. I set up an appointment for Shop #1 to perform compression/leakdown tests on the following day.

Shop #1 Results: After the test, the technician said cylinder #3 was bad. The compression results were 125, 125, 100, 135 respectively. The leakdown test results were 35%, 40%, 60%, 30% respectively.

Action Taken: I contacted the dealership where I bought the car and he seemed willing to work with me. He wanted to have Shop #2 perform the same tests and we will go from there.

Shop #2 Results: The dealership provided me with a copy of the test results. Compression was 110, 110, 115, 115 respectively. Leakdown was < 5%, <9%, <5%, <9% respectively. The dealership said since Shop #2 said these were very good numbers, nothing needed to be done. He said if I had any questions, I can contact Shop #2 directly.

Phone Call to Shop #2 Five Minutes Later: I asked what kind of equipment was used and when it was purchased. Tech said it is Mac and is practically brand new, only used about 3 times. I asked if he performed a wet or dry test and he said dry. I mentioned to the tech that his numbers seemed really low compared to Subaru specs and he said the numbers he got are very good numbers. He said the engine was probably cold which would show lower readings. It was about 10F outside at the time of the test. After we got off the phone, he called me right back and said the test may have been done with the throttle closed and that may have caused the low compression readings.

Action Taken: I called Shop #1 with the new test results and inquired on his equipment and procedure used for the test. They said they used Snap-on equipment purchased about a year ago. They also explained that the combustion chamber should be completely clean and dry when performing the test. To do this, they used a combination of air and ether to get it completely clean of oil and whatever else that could be in there.

How What: I am now stuck with two different places saying two different things. I don't know how I can believe either place at this point. I want to have a Subaru dealership perform the tests, but I hate having to pay for another test especially if the dealership where I bought the car is convinced the car is fine.

What am I to think of the test results from both places and the procedures/equipment used for the tests?

Let me know what you all think.
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Old 02-06-2007, 06:15 PM   #2
crampfan
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Are you getting a check eng. light? does the engine idle rough? or do you feel a misfire? I have never heard that you should clean the oil from the cyls. when doing a leak down test. We have had vehicles not start due to loss of compression after flooding issues (cyl. wash down) I think that cleaning the cyls. of all oil would cause a loss of compression. You might want to try shop #3 and ask if you can watch the compression test and leak down if you don't trust them. I'm pretty sure that 60% loss would cause a CEL.
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Old 02-06-2007, 06:37 PM   #3
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Buy a $20 compression gauge and check it for yourself.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:28 PM   #4
Scootaru
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The only CEL I get is a O2 sensor circuit range/performance high sensor 1 bank 1. I figure that isn't relevant to this situation. The car idles fine and I don't here any kind of misfire. I think I'd get a CEL for a misfire anyway.

Before I took the car anywhere, I performed a compression test on cylinders 2 & 4. I thought those were the problem cylinders, but now I hear most issues occur on 1 & 3. I got readings of 130 on 2 and 140 on 4. I didn't do the test correctly I recently found out. I did not pull all spark plugs and did one at a time. I'm not sure how that skewed the results.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REX8 View Post
Buy a $20 compression gauge and check it for yourself.


what he said.
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Old 02-07-2007, 10:51 AM   #6
Scootaru
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Sounds like good advice, but just one question. If I find a bad cylinder by doing the test myself, how do I make the dealership believe my test is more accurate than the shop where he paid to have the test done?
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:10 PM   #7
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can you have the compression test done at the original selling dealership?
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:31 PM   #8
crampfan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scootaru View Post
The only CEL I get is a O2 sensor circuit range/performance high sensor 1 bank 1. I figure that isn't relevant to this situation. The car idles fine and I don't here any kind of misfire. I think I'd get a CEL for a misfire anyway.

Before I took the car anywhere, I performed a compression test on cylinders 2 & 4. I thought those were the problem cylinders, but now I hear most issues occur on 1 & 3. I got readings of 130 on 2 and 140 on 4. I didn't do the test correctly I recently found out. I did not pull all spark plugs and did one at a time. I'm not sure how that skewed the results.
That won't hurt the results at all.
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Old 02-07-2007, 01:35 PM   #9
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9% leakdown isn't great- 35% is horrendous; the first test sounds like it was done by someone without the faintest idea of what they were doing. Your probably wouldn't have 35% leakdown with the rings removed- he had to have had the valves open while doing the testing.


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Old 02-07-2007, 09:41 PM   #10
Scootaru
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I did the compression test tonight. I got a 132, 130, 135, 140.
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Old 02-09-2007, 12:21 AM   #11
Scootaru
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Well, I guess the deal is sealed. I will definitely pay close attention to the oil level and maybe do periodic compression tests to make sure it doesn't get worse. Is there a gauge I can buy to help me see the first signs of a cracked/broken ringland?
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